Friday, July 17, 2015

TOP STORY >> Hospitals join with UAMS

North Metro Medical Center in Jacksonville and 46 other hospitals have partnered with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences to provide life-saving emergency care for stroke patients in the region.

Called AR SAVES (Arkansas Stroke Assistance through Virtual Emergency Support), the program uses a high-speed video communications system to help provide immediate, life-saving treatments to stroke patients 24 hours a day.

The real-time video communication enables a stroke neurologist to evaluate whether emergency-room physicians should use a powerful blood-clot dissolving agent within the critical three-hour period following the first signs of stroke.

“This partnership gives us an opportunity to enhance the high level of quality care that residents in our region can find close to home here at North Metro Medical Center in Jacksonville,” said Joe Farrer, the hospital’s chief operating officer.

The AR SAVES program is a partnership between the UAMS Center for Distance Health, the state Department of Human Services, North Metro Medical Center and 47 other Arkansas hospitals.

“We’re committed to helping reduce the number of deaths and disabilities in Arkansas caused by stroke each year, and we are excited to be a part of this important initiative,” said Deb Bostic, the hospital’s chief nursing officer.

“This is an important part of UAMS’ mission – reaching out to other areas of the state and helping local physicians identify patients with stroke and improve the patients’ outcomes,” said Michael Manley, outreach director for the UAMS Center for Distance Health and director of AR SAVES.

St. Vincent Medical Center North in Sherwood and Unity Health-White County Medical Center in Searcy are among 45 other Arkansas hospitals participating in the AR SAVES program.

Arkansas, which ranks first in the nation in stroke death rates, had 1,560 stroke-related deaths in 2011, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The nationwide direct and indirect cost of medical and institutional care of permanently disabled stroke victims was $73.7 billion in 2010, according to the American Heart Association’s 2012 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics.

“The AR SAVES program will save lives and money because, if stroke patients get the treatment they need within three hours, they have a much greater chance of living without a major, costly disability,” said Nicolas Bianchi, M.D., AR SAVES medical director.

Bianchi said it’s important the public be aware of the signs and symptoms of a stroke, such as facial drooping or an uneven smile, arm numbness or weakness, and slurred speech or difficulty speaking or understanding speech. To remember them and the importance of getting to a hospital immediately, he said think FAST — face drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulty and time to call 911.